Making Domestic Implementation Real and Meaningful
A Call to Action
March 11, 2011, marks the first anniversary of Canada’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD is the first international human-rights instrument of the 21st century. It reaffirms that persons with disabilities throughout the world should enjoy the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) and the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL), through consultation and dialogue with the disability community and civil society, are joined by over 130 organizations, thus far, in calling for the Government of Canada, Canada’s parliament, provincial and territorial governments, and legislative bodies to work with persons with disabilities, disability organizations, and all other Canadians on the full implementation of the CRPD, to take all appropriate actions to remove barriers experienced by Canadians with disabilities in their effort to participate in all aspects of society.
In the speech from the throne of 2008, the Government of Canada committed to “ensure that all Canadians share in the promise of this land, regardless of cultural background, gender, age, disability or official language. This Government will break down barriers that prevent Canadians from reaching their potential.”
We call on the Government of Canada to make further progress toward this commitment by providing strong leadership for the implementation of the CRPD.
The Government of Canada and the Canadian disability community both played leading roles in the creation of the CRPD. As a result, the CRPD has a Canadian feel to its content and underlying values.
By ratifying the Convention, Canada has reaffirmed its commitment to take progressive steps to improve the living conditions of Canadians with disabilities. Now is the time for action. It’s time to take the practical steps necessary to implement the CRPD and to make substantial progress toward building an inclusive and accessible Canada.
We call on the Government of Canada to take the following actions in order to deliver on the intent of the CRPD, begin implementation and fulfill the obligations laid out in the CRPD.
•Develop national mechanisms for implementation, monitoring and reporting.
•Establish a high-level federal focal point and coordination mechanism to implement the CRPD.
•Demonstrate federal policy leadership on key priorities of the disability community.
•Create a parliamentary committee for input and leadership. n Ensure an independent monitoring mechanism to measure progress and impact.
•Establish a process for Canada’s first Comprehensive Report to the United Nations on progress made. This report will be submitted in 2012.
A Robust Participation Strategy
Design a robust participation strategy to ensure that Canada meets its obligations in Article 4 to “consult with and actively involve persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, through their representative organizations” in implementing the CRPD.
A National Framework for Implementation
Design a National Framework for Implementation, or a National Action Plan, to ensure that Canada meets its obligations in Article 33(2) and to provide the vision and overarching framework for successful implementation of the CRPD. A detailed implementation action plan would identify necessary mechanisms for collaboration, benchmarks for monitoring and reporting, and strategies for priority areas for action that the disability community has identified, including:
Access to disability supports: Disability supports are the foundation for meaningful citizenship and effective participation in all aspects of life. Many articles of the CRPD contain elements of disability supports.
Poverty alleviation: Canadians with disabilities face shameful rates of poverty. Canada must find the mechanisms and political will to address this problem.
Labour force participation: Canadians with disabilities are under-represented in the labour market because of inadequate disability supports and lack of appropriate accommodations. CRPD Article 27 contains many measures that, if implemented, can change this situation.
Accessibility and inclusion: Accessibility, in its broadest sense, and effective participation and inclusion in society are key principles in the CRPD.
Canada’s international leadership: Through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and active involvement in CRPD-related work, Canada can demonstrate its continued commitment to being an international leader on disability.
A Public and Transparent Review Process
The Government of Canada should establish a clear timeframe and process to review its position on Article 12 and the Optional Protocol.
As a State Party to the CRPD, Canada is obliged to take active measures for implementing the CRPD—including monitoring and reporting on those measures. CCD, CACL and our supporting partners believe the measures outlined in this letter are feasible, have practical value and are consistent with the provisions of the CRPD. They provide a starting point for establishing the fundamentals of an implementation plan and monitoring process.
Tony Dolan, CCD, and Bendina Miller, CACL